If eyes are the windows to the soul, then Kaley Halperin’s soul is wide open. A deep cornflower blue, Halperin’s eyes grab the beholder with vivacity and intensity.
Her voice, meanwhile, is tuned to a different frequency. Every utterance is silky soft and laced with melody. Her voice is her most precious gift, she says, the conduit between herself, God and others.
For as long as she can remember, Halperin, 31, has been singing anywhere and everywhere — to herself in the street; to audiences in synagogues, pubs and music halls; to her children each morning while waking them up.
She considers her sound to be a cross between Joni Mitchell and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach — a hybrid of American folk and Jewish spiritual music — peppered with musical influences from all over the world.
For Halperin, the daughter of a Harvard-trained physician and an Orthodox feminist, music is the sound of the soul and represents an ongoing dialogue with her creator.
“Singing is a really spiritual experience,” she says. “Opening your mouth and having something that calms you and can bring joy to other people or help people’s feelings flow, that’s a very powerful thing.”
While her voice is her primary instrument, Halperin also plays guitar, piano and recorder. All her songs have God in them, she says. God has always been present in her life, a source from which to derive comfort and ensure she never feels alone. “That’s my most meaningful relationship,” she says.
But, she adds, like all gifts, her musical ability comes with a profound responsibility. “My connection to music sounds very harmonious, but that’s one side of it,” she says. “The other side is that I constantly feel like I’m [squandering] my gift, like I’m not doing enough to share it.”
As part of a crowdfunding campaign for her debut album, “Here,” Halperin pledged to use her talent in a volunteer capacity. To that end, she gives private music lessons to disadvantaged children. The time spent with them is closer to therapy than musical education, and she has found herself listening to the children’s heartbreaking stories about their lives.
“I wanted to learn music from a place of giving,” she says. As a result, she shunned Israel’s elite music schools and opted to study musical education. Today, she’s a music teacher in an elementary school in her hometown of Jaffa.
She wholeheartedly rejects the cynical notion that “Those who can’t do, teach.”
“I wanted to learn music from a place of giving.” — Kaley Halperin
“I’m not teaching until I get my big break. Teaching is my big break,” she says, adding that music and education “feed each other.”
When she became a mother at 24, Halperin knew she wanted her children to be a part of her musical journey. It isn’t always smooth sailing, though. She laughs, recalling the time she was mid-performance and her newly potty-trained toddler climbed up and pooped on the stage. She was unaware of his antics because she was standing in front of him, in the throes of impassioned crooning.
As with her children, Halperin asks those who attend her shows to become part of the musical experience. Her performances are interactive as she instructs audiences to sustain a beat by clapping or singing a base note.
In mid-July, Halperin will leave her children and husband to embark on a tour of California, where she will give concerts as well as host body-mindfulness workshops with healer Pnina Zoharah.
“I have this sense of adventure, something that makes me want to journey,” she says. “Going to California is listening to the calling of the road. I want to expand the types of connection I make by meeting as many people as possible.”
For details on Halperin’s concert dates in the Los Angeles area, follow her at Facebook.com/KaleyHalperin.